Be reflective as the year closes

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences,
and failing to achieve anything useful.” – Margaret J. Wheatley

The year is coming to an end and 2013 will be history. Rather than think ‘over and done with’, this is a great time of year to be reflective and take an “inventory” of sorts over the past year. Day by day we often lose sight of the key events and development of the past 12 months; however, it is critical to know:

Where I started
Where I am now
What has occurred in my life and career
What I have learned
What I have accomplished
Only with this understanding can you look forward and begin to plan 2014. Thinking about your career and life future, and evaluating if you are happy and fulfilled (or not) takes reflection and clear unencumbered thought.

So what do you do? Give yourself the gift of time
Just for you – no one else. Not sandwiched between phone calls, kids and more, but real alone thoughtful time. On a park bench. Walking in the woods. In a quiet spot of your home. You choose the setting, but it must be:
Reflection on your life and career will not happen with purpose as you are driving to work, bringing the kids to school, plowing through your email, etc. You are too distracted and not focused on the most important thing: You. Yes, you and you alone. No one else.
Your goal? Truly and honestly reassess where you are, where you are going and determine if this is where you want to be.
I know it seems too big to handle, but let’s look at the process like you are building toward something and break it down into steps.

Step One:    
Talk to yourself. During the holiday season spend time thinking about what you really want from a new job, career or life change. Not just a hit-or-miss thought, but thoughts you will then commit to writing.

Step Two:            
Answer the tough questions by writing down the answers:  
What did I learn – did I learn?
What did I accomplish that I can measure?
What was the greatest contribution I made – to myself or to my career – that I am proud of?
What has been my most significant roadblock or challenge I did not overcome?
 For what am I grateful – Am I grateful?

Step Three:        
Ask the simple yes-no questions:
Am I fulfilled?
Am I having fun?
Am I motivated?
Am I energized?
Am I proud of myself?
Am I proud about what I do in career?
Am I happy with myself personally?
Am I happy with myself professionally?

Step Four:        
Plan your actions, which are critical to success. Don’t just “talk” it – plan it and commit to it. Nothing happens until you commit to success – and I dare you to prove me otherwise. Ask yourself:
What is the one goal – the real one and most critical – that I will accomplish in the year/month/day ahead and how will I do this?
And how will I feel when I achieve it?
Will it be enough to make me feel fulfilled?

Step Five:
You asked yourself the tough questions, now take actions for success
Are you in the right job – answer no – Change it!
Fulfilled in your personal life – answer no – Change it!
In the right career that energizes and charges you – answer no – Change it!
What is your mind telling you?
This is an exercise of the mind – that very powerful tool we all have that can drive us forward through positive thought and make us “stuck in the mud” with negative thoughts. Our mind also gives us personal insight, if we are willing to accept it, and I bet that your mind was providing you insight as you worked through this.  Your mind told you either:
All is good …
All is not good …

You discovered some “good news” and not-so-good news. Focus on what is critical first, and begin to make changes, small at first, as you move forward. It may be committing to reading or conversations with someone you respect. Or Working a financial plan or talking with your family on the ideas of change you are committed to making. Again, nothing happens unless you take action and advance.

I wish you and yours a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

Dan Moran is president & founder of Next-Act, a career management & transition firm located in Colonie.  You can reach him at 641.8968 or or visit


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